It was a regular Monday morning at JFK. I sat in Terminal 4 (my most favorite of terminals; thank you, Shake Shack) at 7:45am waiting for my Delta flight to Cancun to board. Sun was shining, plane was at the gate. All was looking good. Then: a delay. All right, nothing unusual yet. Then the Delta flight next to mine was delayed. And the one next to that.
A slow frenzy built, a bass-level hum. A sea of smartphones lit up the gate area with buzzy Twitter feeds. Passengers freaked as the truth came out: Every Delta Air Lines flight in the world was grounded because of a computer outage. Hundreds of thousands of travelers were stranded. This was August 8, 2016, and it came to be unaffectionately known in the Twittersphere as #DeltaDown.
People were pissed. I watched as they took out their frustrations on none other than the Delta flight attendants, who, believe it or not, had nothing to do with this tech meltdown. Yet their job was to keep smiling through the maelstrom. They weren’t even on the clock; flight attendants only get paid when everyone’s in the air. When we finally did take off, passengers demanded free drinks and food. And the flight attendants graciously tried to accommodate, all the while fending off snide remarks.